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Estere Kajema
Upper Sixth
Hallward's House

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27th 2012, casual Friday morning. We woke up, had a nice breakfast, went to School. We felt safe, didn’t we? We felt like nothing was going to harm us, we felt secure.

January 27th 1945. It is absolutely freezing outside and you are a little girl, you are just a little girl, half dressed, in your old, dirty coat with numerous holes in it. There is a yellow Star of David on your sleeve. Your face is covered with mud, your fingers are dirty and you can’t even see what colour your skin is underneath the dirt. You are sitting here, in a small room with dozens of other people, confused and scared tiny little people who are waiting for something. Even though you can hear people whispering around you, you know that you are here on your own. Your family was taken away and killed, you are the only one who is left and you are waiting for nothing. For anything. For something. Do you feel safe now? Do you feel that same comfort?

66 years ago on January 27th, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more that 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were mostly ill or dying. On Friday, thousands of people were thinking about the victims of the Catastrophe, as 27th of January is a Holocaust Memorial Day, which this year was dedicated to Righteous Gentiles.

Many of you are wondering, who are they these righteous gentiles? They are the non-Jewish people, who risked their lives to save Jews during the War. Their role was crucial, and remembering them, these individuals, is as important as remembering the horror of the Holocaust.

The most important of the righteous gentiles, in my opinion was Irena Sendler, who worked for the Warsaw municipality. Whilst walking through the ghetto streets, she always wore the “star” armband, as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people. In 1942, Irena arranged for 2,500 Jewish children to be smuggled out of the ghetto and for secure places to be found for them with non-Jewish families in the Warsaw region. She and her friends hid the children in boxes, suitcases, sacks and coffins. She buried jars containing their real names in the garden, so that, one day, they could learn the names of their biological families. She was caught by the Nazis and tortured. They broke her fingers, every single one. They broke her feet, they broke her legs. They lined up all of her co-workers and shot every other one. Miraculously she was saved and Irena passed away only a couple of years ago, and shortly before her death, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That was when she said "Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory".

I think that stories of these brave people are the answer to the question "what is good and what is bad". These individuals should be our true role models. Their wisdom, their courage, kind heart and compassion are the most inspiring things in the world. In Chapel on Friday we listened to other readings about famous righteous gentiles and their amazing feats of compassion which highlighted how lucky we all are today.

8 February 2012

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